While pasties and pensioners took a hammering on 21 March, Danny Alexander handed himself a budget bribe — in the form of VAT relief for ski lifts in his Highlands constituency. This is the second year in a row that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has benefited from changes in the Finance Bill.
Buried away on page 74 of the Budget is the Treasury’s plan for cable-based transport systems, which will cut costs for the dozens of ski lifts in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
“The Government will introduce a 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT for passenger transportation in cable-based transport systems carrying fewer than ten people.”
The tax break is clearly aimed specifically at ski lifts; cable vehicles which carry more than ten passengers are already exempt from paying VAT.
In last year’s budget, the Tories in charge felt they should “give Alexander something” to keep him quiet; so they managed to rescue the state subsidy for the Cairngorm Mountain Railway.
But with YouGov now predicting Beaker will lose his seat, it might take more than cut-price ski lift tickets to keep him in line until 2015.